JPIMedia appoints firm to advise on sale

JPIMedia today confirmed it has put itself up for sale again.

In a memo to staff, the company said it had £22m in the bank and had come through the pandemic ‘in a strong place.’

A previous sales process last year eventually led to no deal being struck for regional titles, but the company did sell the i to DMGT, owners of the Daily Mail.

Reach, Newsquest and a company set up by Local World founder David Montgomery were all linked with a deal for JPIMedia last time.

A memo to staff from CEO David King today said: “Last summer our shareholders decided to explore their options to sell our business. As you know, we completed the sale of the i to DMGT in the autumn. We also had a number of interested bidders for the regional business at that time although no sale was completed. That process has been on hold since the onset of Covid-19 and the resulting lock down.

“We have made full use of our time since the sale of the i. Audience growth in January to June 2020 is up 41% year on year and digital subscribers are up 237% between December and June. Investment in our digital business has continued. A further seven sites launched paywalls in July and last month The Yorkshire Post launched a donation based subscription model with no paywalls.

“The knowledge and data we have gathered over the last 12 months has helped us rethink what our audiences and customers want. We have created 33 new digital roles in the Editorial team, including six engagement editors, restructured our field sales team and invested in specialist roles in our media sales centres. We have also now re-started our Digital Acceleration program in Scotland.

“Revenues are still tracking below pre-Covid-19 levels, but since the lock down started to ease we have seen many advertisers return, and as customers gradually return to the high street, so newspaper sales are also growing again. As a result, we have been able to gradually unwind the pay cuts we introduced in April although a number of our colleagues remain on furlough.

“We have continued to reduce costs over the period, much of which will sustain into 2021. We had over £22 million of cash in the bank at the end of August and we have successfully come through the lockdown in a strong place.

“As a result, the board is now of the view that it is the right time to re-start the process of exploring its options for the sale of the business. I have always been of the view that business would benefit from being part of the industry’s consolidation, albeit it remains a good business in its own right (as recent months have shown). I can confirm that the board has just appointed GCA Altium as its financial adviser to lead this process. As I have said before, it is the nature of these processes that they are confidential and I am not able to give you a running commentary on its progress, but will of course update you when it is appropriate.

“In the meantime, thank you for all your hard work over the last few months. Clearly there is more to do to ensure we enter 2021 in the best place possible. Once again, thank you for your support and patience.”

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